Columbus Regional cuts 47 positions, cites reduced federal funding

Workers may apply for open positions, get severance pay

tchitwood@ledger-enquirer.comMay 29, 2013 

Reductions in federal funding have compelled Columbus Regional Healthcare System to eliminate 47 jobs whose workers will be allowed to apply for other positions within the corporation.

“If no position is a match for them they will be offered a severance package and their employment with Columbus Regional will end,” the company said today in a news release. “There are no direct care nursing positions affected by this decision.”

Anne Holmes, the company’s senior media relations and marketing manager, said the positions being eliminated are not concentrated in any one division, but spread throughout the corporation’s facilities, affecting 19 separate departments.

Those affected were just notified over the past day or so. They may apply for an open position at any Columbus Regional facility, including The Medical Center, Doctors Hospital, Hughston Hospital and the John B. Amos Cancer Center, she said.

Anticipating reduced federal funding, the company over the past 15 months has been working to cut expenses, according to its announcement today:

“In April of this year we began experiencing a 2 percent reduction in our overall Medicare payments due to sequestration, which amounts to a $2.5 million reduction in payments received. These cuts are on top of the federal government’s adjustment to the Area Wage Index for Georgia that will reduce payments to the state by an estimated $30 million, with Columbus Regional’s portions of those cuts amounting to an estimated $780,000 less in reimbursement received in the 12 months beginning Oct. 1….”

"Sequestration" is the term given mandated federal budget cuts intended to reduce the government's budget deficit.

The "Area Wage Index" is the federal government's method of calculating Medicare reimbursements based on the estimated labor cost for healthcare services within a specific region.

Calling it the "AWI," the American Hospital Association describes it this way: "The AWI is intended to measure differences in hospital wage rates among labor markets; it compares the average hourly wage for hospital workers in each metropolitan statistical area (MSA) or statewide rural area to the nationwide average."

Forty-seven positions within Columbus Regional amounts to about 1 percent of its total labor force, the company said.

Columbus Regional’s services include neonatal and pediatric intensive care units at The Children’s Hospital at The Medical Center. A Level 2 trauma center at the hospital serves 13 Georgia counties.

The John B. Amos Cancer Center treats patients in a 14-county region and is accredited by the Commission on Cancer of the American College of Surgeons. Its services cover radiation, gynecologic, medical oncology and clinical trials.

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